Should You Opt For An AI Hardware Assistant?

These devices can provide instant AI-generated feedback, but does that convenience justify their added price and poor repairability?

Spencer Chin, Senior Editor

May 2, 2024

AI hardware assistants leave a lot to be desired.
Early AI hardware assistants have difficult-to-replace batteries and are of dubious value, says an iFixit reviewer.iFixit

At a Glance

  • Portable hardware AI assistants that provide almost instant feedback are now available. Are they worth it?
  • The devices have tiny batteries which are not easily replaceable.

With AI becoming an increasingly important ally, some vendors believe that dedicated, portable hardware devices can provide AI answers far faster than going into an online app on a smartphone or computer. But according to a teardown review on the YouTube DIY channel iFixit, these early AI hardware devices don’t provide much value, and on top of that are not easily repairable.

The two devices reviewed were the Rabbit R1, an LAM, or Large Action Model designed to be an assistant complementing a smartphone. The second device was the Humane AI Pin, a LLM, or Large Language Model, which is an AI device designed to replace a smartphone. According to an online search, the Rabbit R1 costs $199, and the Humane AI Pin $699, with the latter requiring additional subscription fees for access to AI models.

In tearing down the Rabbit R1, the iFixit reviewer had to loosen the glue off the rear cover to open the device.  Once open, a slim 3.8 Wh battery was found glued to the backplate. Other parts had to be undone by loosening press-fit connectors. But the key component, the Large Action Model, resides in the cloud, leaving the reviewer to decide whether designing the product as a smartphone app would have been more useful than forcing the user to carry around an extra device.

Related:How Repairable Is Apple's AR/VR Headset?

When the reviewer poked inside the Humane AI Pin, he first had to apply heat to the backplate to open the device. The inside of the device revealed a difficult-to-remove, 1.79 Wh lithium battery, with press-fit connectors and screws securing the other parts. As with the Rabbit RI, the brains of the AI Pin, the LLM, reside in the cloud.

The reviewer gave both devices a resounding thumbs-down, concluding that the inaccessible, undersized batteries on both devices added to their dubious value, with their functions better served by making them downloadable apps.

You can view the video here.

About the Author(s)

Spencer Chin

Senior Editor, Design News

Spencer Chin is a Senior Editor for Design News, covering the electronics beat, which includes semiconductors, components, power, embedded systems, artificial intelligence, augmented and virtual reality, and other related subjects. He is always open to ideas for coverage. Spencer has spent many years covering electronics for brands including Electronic Products, Electronic Buyers News, EE Times, Power Electronics, and electronics360. You can reach him at [email protected] or follow him at @spencerchin.

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